Exploring West Bay, Dorset; Home to BBC’s “Broadchurch”

Godfrey Hall is an award-winning UK based travel journalist and member of the British Guild of Travel Writers. He has been in search of elves in Iceland, traveled to the depths of central Australia and been off the beaten track in Bulgaria.

Chris Chibnall and Olivia Coleman, Creator and Star of "Broadchurch"

Chris Chibnall (L) and Olivia Coleman, creator and star of “Broadchurch” (Godfrey Hall)

Tucked away on the south west coast of England, the small seaside town of West Bay was used as the main location for the hit detective series “Broadchurch.” The series was written by a local man Chris Chibnall and starred David Tennant and Olivia Coleman. With over 9.2 million USA viewers for the first series, a third UK series now in the pipeline.

West Bay is close to the delightful market town of Bridport, not far from the county town of Dorchester. It is just along the coast from Lyme Regis, the location for the classic film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” starring Meryl Streep in one of her most famous roles.

Also known for its fossils, the area is popular with holidaymakers from all over the world.

Places to See

West Bay lies just over one mile from the market town of Bridport which has an excellent Saturday street market which includes antiques, food and vegetable stalls together with music and entertainment. For fans of the “Broadchurch” TV series there are a number of locations in West Bay which featured heavily in the show. The building used for the police station lies just behind the Eclipse Café which was also used for interior shots. Detective Inspector Hardy’s blue chalet which appears in the second series can be seen just along the river bank whilst other sites include the newsagents, the harbour, west and east cliffs and the beach. You can walk on the cliffs but take note of the signs as certain areas can be unstable and out of bounds.

The old Methodist Hall close to the harbour and the Bridport Arms were used as the Sea Brigade Hall in the first series and areas around Charmouth for scenes with Hardy (David Tennant) and Lee Ashworth.

Newsagents used in "Broadchurch's" Series 1 (Godfrey Hall)

Newsagents used in “Broadchurch’s” Series 1 (Godfrey Hall)

Harbour Cliff Beach is one of the most recognisable places and it is where Danny’s body was found in the first series. This pebble beach is just a short walk from one of West Bay’s greatest attractions, the fish and chip huts which discreetly line the harbour.

Walks along the coastal path are very popular and Bridport can also be reached by taking the public footpath which goes through the Parkdean Holiday Park. One of Britain’s most attractive bus routes, the X53 runs an hourly service through the seaside town of Weymouth to the east or west to Lyme Regis and beyond to Exeter. Other local attractions include the swans at Abbotsbury and pretty seaside towns such as Charmouth. The county town of Dorchester which has links with the author Thomas Hardy can be reached by the X31 from Bridport. There are also many sea and fishing trips that leave from the harbour.

For those interested in fossils then a trip to Lyme Regis Museum is a must.

Hardy's (David Tennant) House in "Broadchurch's" Series 2 (Godfrey Hall)

Hardy’s (David Tennant) House in “Broadchurch’s” Series 2 (Godfrey Hall)


There are plenty of smaller bed and breakfast establishments in West Bay together with a few small hotels including the Bridport Arms Hotel. You could also stay along the coast in one of the villages such as Burton Bradstock or Abbotsbury.

Another idea could be to stay at the Parkdean Holiday Park. This exclusive site consists of a number of mobile homes which are available to rent. The park is next to the harbour and provides a wide range of facilities including a swimming pool, shop, restaurant, café and bar. The staff is extremely friendly and the location of the site makes it an ideal choice for self catering. There are also other sites further out but the advantage of Parkdean is the location just 200 yards from the beach.

If you are looking for more sophisticated accommodation then you should make for Weymouth, Charmouth or Lyme Regis.

Punch and Judy on Weymouth Beach (Godfrey Hall)

Punch and Judy on Weymouth Beach (Godfrey Hall)

Food and Drink

West Bay is famous for its many kiosks, which can be found discreetly placed around the harbour or close to the river. Here you will be able to buy a selection of different types of fish and chips and other foods. Alfies Kiosk is one of the best places for ice cream. Another great place for fish and chips is the Seasider which is tucked down a side street close to the small swimming pool. Rated as one of the best places in the area, Steve the owner has been there a long time and always aims to please.

Fish and chips are a traditional British dish and consist of deep fried fish often cod, haddock or plaice with chips. This is usually sprinkled with salt and vinegar. It is often eaten out in the open but you can find fish and chip shops such as the Seasider which have tables and chairs inside. People often drink a cup of tea with the meal and may also include mushy (mashed up) peas.

For more sophisticated food you could try the Watch House Café on East Beach which serves local dishes and homemade pizzas. You can also eat at the Bridport Arms. For those who really want to push the boat out there is the Riverside Restaurant which can be found by the river accessed via a short bridge. Here you can try some of the more sophisticated dishes which include local ingredients. There are a number of pubs nearby including The George. You can also buy snacks and drinks in a new area which has opened up. Known as The Customs House it sells a large number of antiques and intriguing items which normally aren’t available in more conventional shops.

River at West Bay (Godfrey Hall)

River at West Bay (Godfrey Hall)

Bridport has some very pleasant cafes including the Beach & Barnicote opposite the town hall and tourist information office.


Much of the nightlife in the area is concentrated around the pubs and bars. The George is a good place to meet the locals in West Bay and so is the Eclipse. West Bay is popular with motor bike

Methodist Church used as Sea Brigade Hall (Godfrey Hall)

Methodist Church used as Sea Brigade Hall (Godfrey Hall)

enthusiasts and you will often see some very expensive bikes on display outside the George. Bridport has a venue called the Electric Palace which puts on films and other events. For further information on what’s on you should inquire at the tourist office in the town. The Beach & Barnicote cafe often has musical events in the evening. Parkdean also has its own social programme for people using the site with singers, comedians and bands.

A good idea is to look on notice boards or in the local shops in West Bay as they will have details of forthcoming evening events.

Further along the coast in Weymouth there are several nightclubs including Rendezvous, Dusk and The Closet. Some of these clubs have as many as three floors, each with a different type of music to dance to depending on what takes your fancy. Many have live music on certain nights.


West Bay is about 3 hours from London which has international flights from the USA and beyond. Regional airports include Exeter and Bournemouth. The area is also served by South West Trains and First Great Western who both run services to Weymouth and Dorchester. There is also a regular hourly bus service from West Bay to Weymouth and Exeter. Car hire is available in Bridport. West Bay has ample parking if you hire a car.

Follow the links above for more information on trains and buses. More information about West Bay and the surrounding area, visit the official tourism page for Dorset.

West Bay Harbour and East Cliff in Background (Godfrey Hall)

West Bay Harbour and East Cliff in Background (Godfrey Hall)

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Featured Image: East Cliff Beach (Godfrey Hall)

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